Ask for the Future
Street: 05.12
Ask for the Future = The Rocket Summer + Something Corporate + Sing It Loud
This is an incredibly earnest, occasionally twee, straight-up pop album with breathy male vocals.  The subject matter is mostly juvenile, existential anxiety with an equally juvenile sense of wonder over romantic love.  In other words, this is an album that is aimed squarely at teenaged girls.  Probably no other demographic is assumed to have worse music taste, which is a cultural tic I often find annoying and misguided.  It would be unfair to dismiss  Ask for the Future simply because they might appeal to your little sister—Satellites features tight, catchy song-writing and vocalist Sam Sorensen has a strong voice that’s much more pleasant to listen to than most singers in the poppy emo genre. The lyrics are by far their weak spot, and hopefully future albums will see improvement in that area.

Spiral Diary
Beautiful Divide
Someday Records
Street: 06.18
Spiral Diary = Dashboard Confessional + Saves the Day + Plain White T’s
This CD was a cringefest.  Emo, as a genre, is sort of embarrassing by definition, even at its best, and bad emo music is so mortifying that it makes me want to curl up in a fetal position.  I don’t understand––why did this even get made?  Why did anyone think that lyrics like “If it seems too good to be true, / it’s probably too good to be true” needed to be sung by a dude with an annoyingly nasal breathy voice?  Why, then, were flaccid, mealy acoustic guitar chords added? The whole venture is just confusing and awkward.

Malevolent MC
Street: 06.02
Malevolent MC = Blue Scholars + Black Star + Del tha Funkee Homosapien
SpyHop is known locally as an organization for teens,  and their record label is teen-run, but the debut from Malevolent MC doesn’t sound immature. There’s not, however, much malevolence to be found here. He rhymes about the importance of music, love and respect. He has a pretty solid talent for rapping, and Definition fits comfortably into the new-old-school  “conscious” model of underground hip-hop.  His production is spare, but the addition of electronica-style beeps and whistles over otherwise bare-bones beats makes his rhymes stand out. It’s a little too wholesome for my tastes, but maybe his next record will see this MC taking on more interesting subject matter.

Jef Doogie
Something Original
Self Expression Music
Street: 09.01
Jef Doogie = Lam + Jedi Mind Tricks  + P.O.S.
Something Original is good, solid underground rap in the style of most solid underground rap: old-school production and angsty subject matter.  The last part is what kept me from really loving this album. Yeah, I get that frenetic navel-gazing and self-doubt are the backbone of many an underground rapper’s subject material, but can we please start spicing it up a little?  A whole album in which just about every song is anxious or depressing is a real downer, not to mention if each song is equally sad or angry, it takes away from the impact of tracks that should really hit you hard.  Jef Doogie shows a lot of potential on this LP, but I hope his next effort isn’t quite so glum.